Skip to content

Will Americans host pre-pandemic Thanksgivings this year? Here’s what a poll found

The poll also asked respondents whether they would require guests to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Turkey dinner - AP
Most Americans surveyed in a new poll said they will have Thanksgiving gatherings this year that are similar to those they had before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Matthew Mead | AP)

Most Americans will have Thanksgivings this year similar to those they had before the pandemic, a poll found. 

The Monmouth University poll released Nov. 16 found the majority of Americans plan to spend Thanksgiving with the same number of people as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. The poll also found that the majority of people are not concerned whether the people they plan to gather with are vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

The poll was conducted Nov. 4-8 and included 811 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. It comes as, unlike last Thanksgiving, COVID-19 vaccines are widely available to the public. It also follows a drop in newly reported COVID-19 cases after a surge sparked by the highly contagious delta variant.

Now, coronavirus cases are starting to rise again in some states, NPR reported, which is a “worrying sign” as the country is on the brink of holiday travel season. AAA has projected that 53.4 million people will travel for Thanksgiving this year, which is within 5% of pre-pandemic levels. 

Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has said that people in the U.S. can “feel good about enjoying a typical Thanksgiving” with their families and close friends if they are fully vaccinated and if the people they are gathering with are fully vaccinated. He warned, however, that cases remain high.

“So when you go to indoor, congregate settings, go the extra mile,” he said during an interview hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center earlier in November. “Be safe. Wear a mask. But when you are with your family at home, goodness, enjoy it with your parents, your children, your grandparents. There’s no reason not to do that.”

Americans’ plans for Thanksgiving 

The poll found 63% of respondents plan to spend Thanksgiving with “about the same number of people” as they did before the pandemic — up from 42% in a poll conducted in November 2020. 

An additional 31% said they plan to spend Thanksgiving with fewer people than before the pandemic, which is down from 53% who said the same last year, the poll found. Meanwhile, 5% said they plan to spend it with more people than they did before the pandemic.

Who Americans plan to spend Thanksgiving with has also changed since last year. 

Nineteen percent said they plan to spend it with just the members of their households, which is down from 37% last year. Meanwhile, 55% said they plan to spend it with a “small number of additional family members or friends,” up from 45% last year, and 17% said they plan to spend it with “a large number of family or friends,” up from 8%. 

Seven percent plan to spend Thanksgiving alone, which is down slightly from 8% last year.

Concerns about COVID-19 vaccination status 

The poll found most Americans are not concerned whether the people they’re gathering with are vaccinated.

Among respondents who said they’re hosting Thanksgiving at their home, 27% said they are requiring that their guests be vaccinated against COVID-19. Meanwhile, 6% said they won’t require guests to be vaccinated but will ask them if they are, and 64% said they will not require their guests to be vaccinated and won’t ask them if they are. 

The margin of error for the sample of people hosting Thanksgiving is plus or minus 6.2 percentage points.

Among respondents who said they are visiting someone’s home for Thanksgiving, 23% said it matters to them whether the other guests are vaccinated and that they will ask the host whether all guests are vaccinated, and 17% said it matters to them but that they won’t ask the host. 

An additional 60% said it does not matter to them whether other guests are vaccinated. 

The margin of error for the sample of people visiting other homes is plus or minus 5.4 percentage points.

As of Nov. 17, 58.9% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 68.7% had received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, the CDC said. 

The CDC said the “best way to minimize” the risk of COVID-19 at holiday gatherings is to get vaccinated.
Be the first to read breaking stories. Allow browser notifications on your device. What are browser notifications?
No thanks